By Malcolm Hornsby | Contributor
The shift to Dallas College’s single accreditation not only brought with it a new unified structure, it also ushered in the need for a new brand identity.
So when plans took shape about a year ago to become Dallas College, which would effectively merge seven colleges into one, the college’s Office of Marketing and Communications undertook the tall task of creating a new institutional identity by first asking questions.
Led by Joanna Jordan, the college’s senior managing director of advertising and brand, the brand group started by conducting an awareness survey with a broad swath of people, including students, employees, community members and campus leaders, to answer a seemingly simple question: Who is Dallas County Community College District?
Overwhelmingly, Jordan says, the responses were similar.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to try and be open to anything,” Jordan said. “We got a lot of, ‘Why so many logos?’ and ‘Are you eight different institutions?’”
The feedback was somewhat expected considering the district’s previous structure, which featured seven separate colleges, each with their own of just about everything from orientation to accreditation, even logos, mascots and colors. A new, simplified flow would have to unify the approach of departments districtwide.
Early on, the marketing group knew they would also have to come up with a brand that combines the history and heritage of the Dallas County Community College District, the former name, with the power and innovation of the new Dallas College, but research was needed.
Working with branding agency Push, the team leveraged survey results and findings from focus groups to help translate the written ideas into reality. “We wanted to show that we are moving forward without losing the heritage,” Jordan said. “There’s more than 50 years of history here. We didn’t want to just act like the previous logo and the previous brand name didn’t exist; we wanted to move it forward.”
Honoring the Past While Aiming for the Future
So with approval last month from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) — the school’s accrediting agency — Dallas County Community College District got the greenlight to become Dallas College, and the planned branding campaign that launched today kicked into high gear.
At macro level, accreditation as a single institution means an improved student experience at Dallas College, which encompasses Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland as campuses, not colleges.
“While we will forever recognize and revere the tremendous role DCCCD has had in shaping the lives of countless students in Dallas County and beyond, we must also acknowledge our responsibility to do more,” said Dr. Joe May, Dallas College’s chancellor. “This bold shift allows us an opportunity to lay a firm foundation for the next 50 years, and I look forward to the new, exciting heights we will go in the name of educating our students.”
A standout of the new logo is the “D” in Dallas, an intentional decision placing emphasis on the area home of an over five-decade relationship between DCCCD and local learners. Look even closer and you’ll notice a bit of familiarity: the Texas star and colors from the previous design, serving as both a tribute and promise to preserve and honor a rich history.
The final version, by far the more popular of two options considered by the college community, was supported by the board of trustees in May. The rollout of the college’s new brand will take place over the course of several months, with immediate use of the new logo, new name and new website, featuring a refreshed look with enhanced navigation and architecture.
“Seeing each of these pieces coming together, even down to seeing the new logo when I logged into my computer, it was like, ‘Ahh, it’s out to the world now!’ It’s exciting,” Jordan said.
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and the same is true for the college’s brand rollout. From police and facilities, to bookstores and athletics, every department will undergo a transition.
Jordan hopes to have many of the larger rebranding projects completed within the next year but admits, “It’s a three-to-five-year process before we stop seeing old branding.”
And that’s not including new television, radio, social media, billboard and bus advertising campaigns, where planning and execution have been even more deliberate than usual — a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s tricky. With fewer people leaving their homes, I wanted to make sure we didn’t buy all this advertising that people weren’t going to see,” Jordan said.
The college’s efforts to remove educational barriers go beyond visual changes. This fall, Dallas College will launch its School of Education and the Early Childhood Institute, offering a first-of-its-kind, four-year baccalaureate degree program in early childhood education and teaching.
Rebranding an entire institution is a huge undertaking, Jordan said. But it is also a chance for the public to look forward and reflect positively on the large role community college has played in educating, employing and defining lives in Dallas County, a key part of Dallas College’s mission.
“We want the brand to show that, yes, we can provide the education they need, and we can compete with the universities,” Jordan said.
# # #
About Dallas College:
Dallas College is one of the largest community colleges in Texas. Since 1965, it has helped almost 3 million people on their educational journey.
For more information, go to www.dcccd.edu